Semi-random notes while listening to Jelly Roll Morton and making excuses for not having posted for a couple of days:
Actually, I've been busy with a translation and so have had little desire to do any more typing. One thing running this blog taught me how to do is touch-type, and I'm actually pretty fast now.
The media over here has given a lot of attention to the so-called Baker Plan, which I doubt will actually lead to anything. I don't like the idea of negotiating with Iran and Syria--it reminds me of Captain Furillo negotiating with the gang leaders on Hill Street Blues--and I particularly don't like the linkage of Israel and the Palestinians with Iraq. Oh, well, everybody will have forgotten about it in a week.
Robert Gates got some press when he said during his Senate hearing that the US was not winning the war in Iraq. However, they paid little attention to his later statement that the US was not losing, either.
I will admit that there seems to be a little less anti-American rhetoric over here since the Democrats won the congressional election and Bush began to build bridges both domestically and internationally. That's "opinion": folks angry about one particular policy, rather than "bias," folks who just hate America. Unfortunately, while a lot of the "opinion" antis have calmed down a good bit, the "bias" antis are just as loud as they ever have been.
From today's La Vangua, credited to "Agencies," on page 6, regarding sales of the "Baker Plan" in book form in the US: "Once again, American citizens have surprised the entire world with their voracious reading and interest in politics. In only 24 hours (the Baker Plan) has become a best-seller, both in the country's principal bookstores and the Internet." Fair enough, but why would the entire world be surprised at Americans' civic behavior? Oh, wait, because you guys in the European media have been telling the entire world for years that we're a bunch of morons.
The local media also made a big deal about the Seminole tribe's buying the Hard Rock Cafe chain. The photo of the Indians all dressed up in "traditional clothing" on the balcony of the New York outlet made the front page of La Vangua and the TV3 news, too. TV3 claimed that those evil white people had tried to commit "genocide" on the Seminoles, which of course is not true. Several long, desultory wars were fought in Florida beginning before 1820, and many Seminoles were deported to Oklahoma. Remember, though, the Seminoles were one of the Five Civilized Tribes, those that practiced sedentary agriculture, white-man style--and owned black slaves, whose descendants are known today as Black Seminoles. The whites never tried to wipe the Seminoles out. (Nor, as far as I know, did they ever attempt to wipe out a whole tribe, though there were certainly wars and massacres.) The history of the way they treated the Seminoles is ugly enough, and there's no need to make it worse.
Here in Barcelona the big news seems to be the squatters. The media is reporting that there are more than 300 squats here in town, ranging from small houses to large factories. More than 60 of the squats are in my neighborhood, boho Gracia. Last week the cops kicked them out of an old factory in Poblenou, and they immediately moved in and took over another unused factory. They actually hired private security guards, who allowed people to enter and leave while the place was supposedly surrounded by the police! Supposedly the squatters use these places to exercise their creativity, claiming that their squats are cultural centers. I don't buy it for a second, since several of them are open as unlicenced, illegal bars. I will say that they are centers for the diffusion of ultra-leftist political philosophy.
Many of these people are not locals; they've come from all over the world to hang out here. They have a political agenda, calling themselves "anti-system," and they frequently riot and commit vandalism. Most people in Barcelona are heartily sick of them and the disturbance their mere presence causes, and resent their moving into unoccupied houses and buildings without paying a duro in rent or tax. What broke the camel's back was the suspension and then cancellation of the EU's housing summit, involving diplomats and officials from all 25 EU countries, and a nice feather in the cap for Barcelona, when local authorities informed the Zap government that they could not guarantee security against squatter anarcho Black Bloc rioting.
Wacky bit of Catalooniness: Regional cabinet counselor Joan Puigcercos of ERC, a former member of Keystone Kops terrorist gang Terra Lliure, ordered that the Spanish flag be taken down in front of his department's offices. This is against the law, which clearly states that the Spanish flag is to fly at all government buildings, whether national, regional, or municipal. New Premier Montilla made him put it back up, thereby demonstrating that he is not going to put up with any clownishness from these guys.